Devotional: I Am Judas
As the Lord continues to pursue me in my spiritual walk with Christ, I am finding that, without fail, Pastor Barry’s sermons each week tie into the work that God is doing in my heart. This past week, I found myself listening to a lecture on repentance. One of the discussion questions was this: “What would it have looked like for Judas to genuinely repent?” My immediate thought was, “That guy was too far gone! There was no coming back for him.” But as I continued to listen to the lecture and think more about the sins in my life, I realized that Judas and I actually have a lot in common. Josh and I talked about this question of Judas’ repentance, and we discussed Judas’ outward sin versus what was going on in his heart. From reading scripture, I gather that his outward sin was his betrayal of Jesus to the Pharisees for money. But what was going on in his heart that he would do this? I believe that ultimately, Judas’ love for himself reined supreme and this led him to forsake our savior. As I read the story of Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, it is easy to think that I would never have done such a thing – that I would have stood firmly by Christ no matter what. But when I examine my life and the choices I make, I realize that I AM Judas. I am Judas when I sin against Josh by saying something mean in an argument that I know will hurt him. I am Judas when I covet the things that other people have that I don’t. I am Judas when I gossip about a friend. In every one of these sins, my love for myself reigns supreme over my love for Christ. So, what now? Is there no coming back for me?
The sermon text from this past weekend was Leviticus 5:14-6:7. Pastor Barry explained as he opened his sermon that in the text, God had provided Moses with instructions to tell His people how to make reparation for broken relationships, caused by their sin. Pastor Barry pointed out that these instructions God provided were meant to inform them of how to restore a broken relationship with Him, as well as with other people. He went on to emphasize the role that repentance has in seeking reparation and how repentance begins with confession. He explained that our sin is, first and foremost, against the Lord and that He is the one we ultimately stand guilty before. He pointed to scripture to reveal that when we sin against the Lord, we commit spiritual adultery. He quoted James Chapter 4, verses 1-4 which says, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Pastor Barry went on to say that in this reference, James is confirming that “all sin is spiritual adultery. It is worshipping a false God, worshipping, or putting something before the worship of the one true God, making something more important than God. When you have something in your heart that you want more than loving God, that is what causes war because that is spiritual adultery.”
I think that when we look at someone like Judas, it is easy to see their spiritual adultery. But what about when we look at ourselves? My immediate response to the question of Judas’ repentance was a comparison of my sin to his. Did I really think that I had less to repent for? The answer is yes. Pastor Barry later pointed out in his sermon that we often find ourselves comparing our sins horizontally to each other’s when we should be comparing them vertically, to God. This is exactly what I did! I looked at what Judas had done and decided that it was greater than my own sin. But thanks be to God that He has called me to live for Him and not my own selfishness. As I continued to think more about repentance and grace, He convicted me of the fact that my sins are atrocious because they are committed against Him. In His perfect righteousness, Jesus has set a standard that none of us are able to keep. And although we do sin against one another and ought to seek reparation, the magnitude of our sin is not measured against other people; it is measured against Christ. And in my sin, I have committed atrocities against our perfect and almighty Father.
I think that this realization can be daunting. We can get stuck in the depravity of our sins and our helplessness when it comes to repairing what is broken. But when this realization of our need for grace brings us to the cross, we experience the blessing of understanding more of the depths to which we have been forgiven. And as the Holy Spirit works in us, this understanding floods us with gratitude and love for Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters, if you are struggling with admitting the depths of your sin, take heart that there is no need to fear in Jesus Christ. We can confess and repent of our sin willingly and without the need for a sacrifice as the people in Leviticus needed, because we have received the ultimate, perfect, eternal sacrifice in Jesus Christ. Our sin will always be against the Lord, and we are called to confession and repentance, but there will always be grace when we confess and repent, and our heavenly Father waiting with open arms to receive us and love us no matter how far we have strayed.